How To Experience The Best Of Ireland
Our two weeks road trip made us fall for the emerald island. The national parks, the Atlantic Ocean, its scenic drives and coastal hikes, the old stone castles, mansions and ancient ruins… Now let us show you how to experience the best of Ireland.
So two weeks in Ireland. On the road – oh, those narrow country roads where it’s hard to figure which is the left side of the road, and you still need to share them with sheep. In the national parks. On the majestic Atlantic coast – hiking in the wind, the fog, the drizzle, the pouring rain, even in the sunshine!
The crazy weather sometimes made us hate Ireland, but altogether we were heartbroken to leave. Ah, we usually are wherever we travel. 😛
In this post we collected our favorite experiences so that we can get nostalgic and you can get some ideas about what to do in Ireland. A win-win, isn’t? Let’s see.
The harmony of ancient ruins, elegant mansions and national parks
First of all, Ireland offers both wonderful natural and cultural treasures. The perfect harmony of the two truly amazed us.
Like Muckross House – an old mansion with a huge flower garden, giant trees and lush green lawn – that blends into surrounding Killarney National Park.
Or the same harmony between Kylemore Abbey and Connemara National Park, Glenveagh Castle and Glenveagh National Park.
The ruins of St Patrick’s Rock on the hilltop, surrounded by blooming trees. Ancient ruins covered with moss, climbing plants and little flowers.
The masterpieces of people and nature often blend into each other in Ireland, strengthening each others beauty and specialty.
Dramatic coastal hikes
We love the ocean! In case of Ireland, it means hiking on the ocean coast in the first place. Though there were some beaches where signs warned us to be careful when swimming or protect ourselves against the sun, we usually just laughed about them. Well, until we’ve seen Irish people lying under their parasol because the sun almost shined. 😛
While we admire Irish people swimming in those cold waters, or simply wearing a swimsuit in that wild wind, we definitely don’t have any Irish blood in our veins. So we were fine with hiking. Oh, so much more than just fine. Every part of the country offer some dramatic, beautiful coastal hikes. Most of them are not long or hard, but so scenic! They are perfect fit for a six months pregnant woman – this is me. 🙂
Our favorites were the Slieve League Cliffs and Horn Head in Donegal, the famous Cliffs of Moher, the short walks at Kerry’s Cliffs in County Kerry and the coastal trails of Howth Peninsula near Dublin.
Wild Atlantic Way
The other great thing about Ireland’s Atlantic coast is the Wild Atlantic Way. This 2500 kilometres long coastal road is an infinite source of beauty – and it could add an infinite number of days to your stay. Of course, we couldn’t do it all the way within two weeks, so we explored some regions in depth and used the main roads instead of the scenic coastal route other times.
Our favorite sections were the Ring of Kerry, the scenic drives around Dingle Peninsula and Horn Head, the Burren Coastal Road and the route between Galway and Clifden.
Boat tour around the Skellig Islands
We couldn’t talk about the Atlantic Ocean without mentioning puffins, right? These birds are just the cutest, and yes, you can see some in Ireland, too. Well, mostly on the islands, like the Skellig Islands.
We took part in a boat tour around Skellig Islands, and we’re going to write about it in detail later. All we want to say for now is that this boat tour was our best bird watching experience in Ireland. And yes, we’ve seen puffins, too, lots of them.
Ireland has fjords!
Did you know that Ireland has fjords? Exactly two: Killary and Lough Swilly Fjords. We especially liked Killary Fjord because we spent two days in that area. The fjord was what we’ve seen from our rooms, we drove around it in rain and sun (it was nicer in the sun), we walked on its shores and got impressed by the countless pink flowers that were in bloom that time.
Ireland may not have the tallest waterfalls in Europe, but I doubt they ever dry out. We’ve found lots of pretty waterfalls while driving around the island, most of them was kind of on the way and accessible by a short walk. How could we have missed them?
Visiting in May
We’re sure that each season has its own beauties. Uhm… nope, we doubt Irish winter is nice, especially that there’s not much snow and surely lots of grey days. Anyway, we were so happy to see Ireland in May! The emerald island was in bloom, we’ve seen colorful wildflowers everywhere, and they made those wonderful landscapes even more special.
Have you ever been to Ireland? Do you feel tempted to visit any of these places?